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Advances in Homelessness Prevention Give Us Something to Celebrate

May 5, 2021

Next month, the Partnership for Strong Communities will be hosting our yearly awards ceremony, the Reaching Home Awards Celebration. And, for the second straight year, this event will be held virtually because of the continued COVID-19 pandemic in Connecticut. It’s undeniable that the last year has been unlike any other – for many of us, it has been a time of loss and grieving. At the same time, the last year has shattered our expectations of what we thought was possible in the work to end homelessness in Connecticut. By celebrating the important work that our state’s homelessness response system has done in the last year, we can recommit ourselves to pushing for further breakthroughs in the work to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time.

Here are just a few of the tremendous accomplishments over the last year:

Hotels, Shelter Decompression, and COVID-19 Prevention. In the early days of the pandemic, Connecticut was one of the first states to decompress its shelter system to better adhere to social distancing guidelines. Shelters across the state partnered with the state government to successfully move people experiencing homelessness into hotels, and Connecticut was able to prevent a major outbreak of COVID-19 in these hotels and shelters. Through the 1,000 Homes effort, over 1,100 people experiencing homelessness statewide were connected to permanent housing over a 4-month period at the height of the pandemic.

Securing an Eviction Moratorium. Housing advocates across the state, including the Reaching Home Campaign, lobbied Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for a statewide eviction moratorium at the beginning of the pandemic. Since March of 2020, the state has had an eviction moratorium in place – though it has unfortunately been weakened over that time. Research has shown that eviction moratoriums played a major role in reducing communities’ risk of COVID-19.

Investing in A Better Future. Safe, stable housing is key to the health and well-being of people and communities alike. The pandemic showed how Connecticut can benefit from housing investment – and, as a result, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in investment from the federal, state, and municipal levels. We’ve been able to expand programs and services in a way we haven’t been able to before, and if we can continue to advocate for new investments moving forward, we will continue to see major progress toward our collective goals.

Building Partnerships Across the State. Before the pandemic, housing advocates and providers were starting to create multi-sector partnerships with organizations in the health and justice systems, among others. The pandemic has supercharged these efforts, creating new and expanded partnerships in the world of health & housing which we can continue to build on.

A Commitment to Racial Equity in Housing. Racial inequities are an undeniable part of the past and present of housing in Connecticut. Across our state, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) families are more likely to experience homelessness, eviction, and housing insecurity. Housing organizations across the state, including the Partnership, are working to center racial equity in the state’s housing policy and advocacy through the HUD Racial Equity Demonstration.

The past year has given us a lot to celebrate, and it’s time to recognize the housing heroes who made this progress possible. Join us on June 16 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm for the 16th Annual Reaching Home Celebration, an unforgettable event to honor the accomplishments of those who work to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut.